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Ukraine, Bulgaria Angered By French President's Migration Comments

French President Emmanuel Macron (file photo)

Ukraine and Bulgaria have filed diplomatic protests with France after President Emmanuel Macron was quoted making a disparaging comment about immigrants from those countries in an interview published on November 1.

Bulgaria said on November 2 that it would summon the French ambassador to Sofia on November 4 to explain Macron's remark.

Meanwhile, Ukraine summoned France's ambassador on November 1. A statement on the website of the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said the ambassador explained that Macron's words were taken out of context.

"The French ambassador said that the French side has no complaints against Ukrainian citizens traveling across France," the statement said.

In the interview with the magazine Valeurs Actuelles, Macron explained that he favored "quota-based migration" to an influx of illegal workers. He then added that he preferred legal migrants from Guinea or Ivory Coast to "clandestine networks of Bulgarians and Ukrainians."

"Nobody has the right to insult the Bulgarian and Ukrainian people," Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister Krasimir Karakachanov was quoted in Bulgarian media as saying on November 2.

Bulgaria opposes the so-called Macron package, a European Commission reform targeting illegal road-transport practices.

Sofia says the reform discriminates against Bulgarian firms and seeks to eliminate competition in trucking from central and eastern European firms.

Based on reporting by AFP, Interfax-Ukraine, and Politico